Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule has staunchly supported quarterback Sam Darnold all season, but that support may be eroding.
Rhule was noticeably non-committal Sunday when asked if he believes Darnold is the quarterback that gives the Panthers the best chance to win. Rhule said he had to “watch the tape” and praised Darnold’s preparation and toughness, but admitted he needed to see better decisions.
“I’ll watch the tape before I make some big statement. To be quite honest, I want to make sure I see everything and consider all factors,” Rhule said, via Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports. “I know Sam prepared hard. I thought he went out there and I thought he showed toughness. He gritted to the end so I don’t want to lay anything at his feet.
“We can’t have a quarterback throwing the ball up in the air. He knows that. I know that. Whether we have to get with the coaches and figure out is it the coaching, is it him, what is it? We just can’t keep doing this. But I have to see everything before I can probably answer that better.”
That hardly counts as a ringing endorsement, but Darnold doesn’t deserve one. He went just 16-for-33 for 172 yards and threw three interceptions in a 24-6 loss to New England. Things were rough enough that his own teammates were ripping into him on the sideline.
Rhule has demonstrated a huge amount of faith in Darnold in the past. So far, that faith has not been rewarded. The Panthers may have no choice but to look elsewhere going forward.